Organization Articles

An area that is too often overlooked when it comes to developing a garage storage system is right above you. Taking advantage of that unused ceiling space can work wonders when it comes to organizing your black hole. Hanging baskets, also referred to as loft storage, can be installed from one end of your garage ceiling to the other, providing literally tons of new storage space for coolers, luggage, camping gear, clothes—you name it. Worried your garage door might get in the way? Don’t. TUFFRAX Super Heavy Duty Overhead Garage Storage system is built specifically to make use of that dead space between your garage door and the ceiling!

A garage is not only a place where you place your car in. Most households would use this part of their house to store all sorts of things in. That is why it common to see garages that look cramped and very disorganized. If you have this kind of problem, one thing that you can do is put up structures like overhead garage storage racks.

Aside from racks, garage shelving systems would be another thing that you can use to have more space for storing items. There are so many things that you can place in shelves. This would be very useful for storing those small things that are always getting lost. Placing them in a shelf makes finding them easier.>

Using garage storage shelves is a very good option that you can consider to maximize the space that you have. You do not need a very big room to make things organized. You just need to know the proper way that you can use it. Installing racks and shelves can make even small space look spacious. Having sufficient place for all of your stuff would be a good way to keep everything clean. Clutter is something that makes even the cleanest room look dirty. There should always be a specific place for every item that you own in order for it can really mess a room up when you just leave things anywhere.

Keeping a place clean is also important because there might be things that can hurt you. Keep in mind that you are also storing tools and other dangerous objects in the room. Store them properly before they will hurt someone. You should be very keen with especially when there are children around.

If you happen to be in possession of some good carpentry skills, it would not be a good idea to construct your own shelf or storage unit. You can do this as long as you have the things that you will need. This would be good way to use your spare time especially if you have so much time in your hands.

Another thing you can do is just get a carpenter to make you something that you can use. He can finish the construction in a shorter period of time. You can hire them if the project requires a lot of detailed work.

Having overhead garage storage racks is going to keep things organized. The items are also going to stay in good shape once properly stored. These are something you would need when there are just too many things lying around.

A garage is not only a place where you place your car in. Most households would use this part of their house to store all sorts of things in. That is why it common to see garages that look cramped and very disorganized. If you have this kind of problem, one thing that you can do is put up structures like overhead garage storage racks.

Aside from racks, garage shelving systems would be another thing that you can use to have more space for storing items. There are so many things that you can place in shelves. This would be very useful for storing those small things that are always getting lost. Placing them in a shelf makes finding them easier.

Using garage storage shelves is a very good option that you can consider to maximize the space that you have. You do not need a very big room to make things organized. You just need to know the proper way that you can use it. Installing racks and shelves can make even small space look spacious.

Having sufficient place for all of your stuff would be a good way to keep everything clean. Clutter is something that makes even the cleanest room look dirty. There should always be a specific place for every item that you own in order for it can really mess a room up when you just leave things anywhere.

Keeping a place clean is also important because there might be things that can hurt you. Keep in mind that you are also storing tools and other dangerous objects in the room. Store them properly before they will hurt someone. You should be very keen with especially when there are children around.

If you happen to be in possession of some good carpentry skills, it would not be a good idea to construct your own shelf or storage unit. You can do this as long as you have the things that you will need. This would be good way to use your spare time especially if you have so much time in your hands.

Another thing you can do is just get a carpenter to make you something that you can use. He can finish the construction in a shorter period of time. You can hire them if the project requires a lot of detailed work.

Having overhead garage storage racks is going to keep things organized. The items are also going to stay in good shape once properly stored. These are something you would need when there are just too many things lying around.

Garage overhead storage is about helping people stay sane. I mean, is it just me, or does stuff piled up all over the garage just make you want to go ballistic? Seriously! Mystery boxes of junk that I have to keep kicking to the side, or stepping over, just makes me want to freak out. Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let’s talk about some solutions to this common problem that nearly all home owners face every day.

One of the real fundamental issues that underlie the problem of clutter and disorganization in a garage is simple laziness. You know what I mean. The kids come home, drop the bikes right in the middle of things and run inside with their dirty feet. You’ve been out fishing all day and come home tired and hungry. No time for putting things carefully away. Nope, just lean the stuff up in a corner and try to forget about it until the next time. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other holidays are especially fun. Haul all the stuff in, use it, then send it back to the garage to spend another year right in the way, collecting dust, and not organized. Never fear, garage overhead storage is on the way to save the day.

There are all sorts of ways to organize your garage. Specialized racks for hanging bikes, tools, fishing gear, and other things are probably some of the most common things people turn to for help getting on top of the clutter. And, they are a good start. It makes sense to use these to organize some things. Other solutions many people find helpful are basic cabinets and shelves. These are definitely a wonderful addition to any garage in need of help.

And now for my favorite idea of all, garage overhead storage. This is the absolute best fix for a lot of the stuff that really kills ground space in the garage. Think about it, the square footage on the floor is at a premium, and any chance to get things up above should be taken ASAP. Carpe diem!

Here are some specific garage overhead storage ideas for you to consider using in your own garage. First, is the raisable platform. This is a sweet idea. It consists of a platform that is raised and lowered via a rope and pulley system. Simply lower the platform down to the ground to load it up with things like holiday decoration bins and other bulky items that you really don’t have to get to very often. Then, raise it up to the rafters. Viola! When you need those things again it is simple to get to. Just lower the platform down and get what you need.

You can also get stationary shelves that are attached to the ceiling. You just need a ladder to access the stored items, so you don’t want to put anything up there that you have to access very often. The other garage overhead storage idea to think about is overhead bins. These run on tracks that are installed up yonder. Not as easy to get to, but still a big space saver.

These are three great options for garage overhead storage. Regardless of what type you choose, it will help you stop the madness and enjoy the reality of an organized space.

Garage Storage Is the Key to a Better Looking Garage

For most homeowners the garage is the black hole of their home’s universe. Unwanted items from all other areas of the house are pulled in, stacked and forgotten until one day you open the door, look in and realize you can’t see from one side to the other. If this sounds familiar to you, a garage storage system could transform your dark abyss into an attractive, orderly space that you might even enjoy spending time in.

Storage Should Be a Multi-Pronged Attack

The art of storing things in your garage is first and foremost an organizational issue. The reason most garages look so trashed is that there simply isn’t anywhere to put anything besides stacking it against the wall. By taking advantage of all available space and introducing a number of efficient storage solutions, you can literally transform the state of your garage overnight.

Start with Cabinetry

The most popular place to start is by installing a cabinet based garage storage system. Cabinets serve several purposes. For starters, they have shelves, and shelves mean you’ve now got homes for your tools, paints, camping equipment and whatever else you’ve got taking up space out there. Furthermore, since everything has a place, it will be easier to keep the garage clean as long as you take the time to put things back where you found them. The other big benefit of installing cabinetry in your garage is that they’ve got doors. You’d be amazed how improved your garage looks when you’re able to hide your mess behind a thin piece of particle board, wood, or stainless steel.

Look into Overhead Garage Storage

The second area that is too often overlooked when it comes to developing a garage storage system is right above you. Taking advantage of all that unused overhead garage storage space can also work wonders when it comes to organizing your black hole. Hanging baskets, also referred to as loft storage, can be installed from one end of your garage ceiling to the other, providing literally tons of new storage space for coolers, luggage, camping gear, clothes—you name it. Worried your garage door might get in the way? Don’t. There are even overhead garage storage systems built specifically to make use of that dead space between your garage door and the ceiling!

Pulley Systems for Bikes, Boats, and Campers

The other innovative product that is available when it comes to efficient storage in your garage is a pulley system for easy overhead storage of larger items such as bicycles, canoes, and even truck toppers and larger boats. Overhead hooks have long been a favorite of garage organizing. These pulley systems expand on that idea and make it much easier on the homeowner to raise or lower the stored object with the use of a rope and pulley.

Why Stop with Storage?

Once you’ve decided to make an investment in storage for your garage, you might want to consider making a few other upgrades while you’re at it. Adding a garage floor coating to go with your new cabinets, and installing a garage heater, will create a space you’ll actually enjoy spending time in. Talk to a designer or contractor who specializes in storage solutions and upgrades in order to get your new storage system and other garage improvement projects underway.

Having the right items ready on the main garage work day will allow you to use your space and house your items more efficiently. For some homeowners, the garage ends up being the storage place for many items. Sometimes, even the car worth thousands of dollars ends up cold and dirty in the driveway, while junk and more unused items take up garage space.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Planning your garage re-organization can be simplified by following five simple steps. Before you begin, make a date and put it on your calendar for the main work day. You will do some steps ahead of this so that your main day is very productive, including deciding the goal and purpose for your garage. Then decide on a reward for a job well done!

1. Figure out the garage zones.

Take a pad and paper with you to the garage. Walk around and write down the main groups of items that your garage currently holds. Examples would be: bikes, recreational items, car supplies, gardening tools, holiday decorations, long handled tools, paints, recycle bins/trash cans and tools.

2. Drift and dispose.

On a separate day, walk around the garage with garbage bags and place anything in it that you no longer use or love. These will be for donating. Keep a log of items you’re donating to deduct from your taxes. If your garage is really full, don’t stress about digging down deep. This is more of a drift and dispose – getting things out of there within sight that you know you don’t use anymore. This way you have less to deal with on main garage work day. Place bags in your car to take to the nearest charity.

3. Make a list.

Find some time to sit in the garage and think about your garage zone list and what items you may need to buy to help organize things better. Example: if you have a lot of fishing poles, you can buy a wall mount to house them. If you have a lot of sports items, you may need a sports gear organizer.

Having the right items ready on the main garage work day will allow you to use your space and house your items more efficiently. One main thing that garages usually need is more shelving units. You want to utilize the vertical space in the garage. If you think you’ll need one or two, purchase them before the main garage work day. Most garages need to have a wall rack for all the long-handled items. If you keep your broom and mop in the garage, you may need a smaller wall rack for these items to be close to the entry door to house.

4. Go shopping.

Do your shopping before you the work day in order to have items ready so you can complete your garage organization in one day.

5. Work day.

Be sure you have water and black bags for trash and white for donations. Begin pulling out each item onto the driveway, sorting as you go into the zone categories. Once the garage is emptied, blow or sweep it out. Now that you’ve purged any unused items into the trash or donation bags, you are left with what will be going back into the garage. Create a layout for returning items using sticky notes temporarily. You’ll want to place items most used closest to entry door to house.

Begin placing items back into the garage in their proper place. The final step is to label each bin or shelf. This will help you maintain your organization.

Susan Wade of Sunflower Strategies Professional Organizing

As the sun begins to shine through our windows, our itch to tidy up our homes returns. As you dig out your lawn mower and patio furniture, are you embarrassed to leave your garage door open very long? Have your cars long ago been booted from their rightful home to make room for more clutter? Are you taunted by the teetering stacks and piles crowding every inch of your garage?

As my organizing column gathers momentum, I thought I would spend some of these first articles giving you a new perspective on organizing and addressing some key household hot spots of disorder. Last week, I shared some foundational planning steps for establishing a successful home office. As a professional organizer I can tell you the office is the most requested space in the home. From my experience, however, it’s the good old garage that is the most contentious space in the home! Husbands and wives have spent untold hours bickering about this closed-in carport! Why? Because the garage acts as a household receptacle!

The Step and Toss
So, how do our garages get so cluttered and neglected? The garage is the one place where we toss everything that doesn’t have a home! If you don’t know where you put it, you toss it in the garage! If you want to get it out of your way or out of your sight, you toss it in the garage. You simply step inside the door (afraid to go much further into the abyss) and toss whatever is in your hand.

When you find yourself using your garage as a receptacle, examine the root problem. Usually, items are being tossed in the garage for two reasons. First, it’s likely that you haven’t resolved all your organizing challenges within the home. If you had, for example, a designated space for overflow pantry items inside, you would not open the garage door and launch cereal boxes or paper towels into this vortex of miscellany. If you had a “home” for utility items inside in your laundry room, you wouldn’t shove light bulbs and batteries into any space they fit. If you haven’t taken the time to “purpose” your interior storage, you will likely turn to the only obvious storage locale in the home: the garage. Second, if the garage captures your cast-offs, it’s likely you’ve never given yourself a total garage overhaul.

In many garages, our organizers uncover “time capsules” which is the frightening outcome of your Step and Toss behavior. A time capsule could be a beach bag with magazines, a work project, and a half eaten apple from last month. It could be the “company is coming” cardboard box from last summer, filled with unopened mail, school work, and bills. Time capsules suck in important information and belongings, and they often mysteriously find their way to the garage.

Strategies to Help You Address Your Mess

– Work on the garage last.

It is much easier to tackle a garage after you have organized the rest of the house. The garage tends to be a dumping ground for all the “unknowns” throughout the house. If you know where everything goes within the home, when you organize your garage, many items can be re-located inside. When you come across luggage in your garage, and you’ve previously determined that all luggage will live in your basement, this luggage can be re-united with its counterparts in the basement. When you find boxes of archival paper and memorabilia stuck in the dark corners of your garage and you’ve already decided that the upstairs hall closet will store all memorabilia, you know just what to do with those boxes you’ve just uncovered. When the inside of your home makes sense, determining the appropriate contents of your garage will be much easier.

– Set aside enough time to work on your project.

I recommend dedicating back-to-back days (like an entire weekend) to work on your garage organization project so items that are being sorted do not have to sit out in piles for long.

– Hire an expert

Assemble a team of people to work on the project, or it may turn into an overwhelming task that will be abandoned part way through. Also, be sure to identify a project manager to provide direction for the crew.

– Consider what categories of items you want to store in your garage

Does luggage really have to live there, or can it live in the attic, or an indoor closet? Should chemicals live in the garage, or can you relegate them to the garden shed? Some typical categories of items that are housed in the garage are:

1. Recycling
2. Overflow pantry and household supplies
3. Sports and recreational equipment
4. Camping gear
5. Automotive supplies
6. Seasonal décor
7. Yard and garden supplies
8. Utility items like tools and hardware
9. Once you know what categories of items should “live” in your garage, begin pulling everything out of your garage to begin your discovery process. As each item comes out of the garage, place it into a box and give the box a category name. Label the box with its category name. Arrange these category boxes in the driveway, or center of your garage. Obtain lots of boxes in a variety of sizes since items of all descriptions, from huge paint cans to nuts and bolts, will need to be sorted.

– Reconsider, trash, or donate items.

Once items have been consolidated by like type, you can then begin assessing what you use and what you don’t use. You will likely find items that have a better destination within the home. You will also find belongings that can be donated to your favorite charity, others that are broken, and still others that can wait till the end of your project for you to determine a proper place for it. Now is the time to purge any excess, broken, or unnecessary items.

– Determine where you want each type of item to live by frequency of use and available space

Recycling should live near the entrance to the home for ease of use. Hardware should live near the workbench, and so on. Think about your most “valuable real estate” when you are considering available space. Parking space and those shelves at eye level or within reach are “valuable real estate.” Less valuable real estate would be very high or low shelves, and should be reserved for less frequently accessed items.

– Install additional built-in cabinets or obtain modular storage if needed.

Now and only now should you begin shopping for product (storage shelving and bins) since you are now aware of exactly what you want to store and how much needs to be stored together. Most people make the mistake of getting the plastic bins, shelving, or even an expensive built-in system before they’ve gone through the instructive process of sorting and categorizing. You can save money and stress if you hold off buying product until the right time in the process.

If you choose a built-in system, you’ll have to pause the re-loading process until your customized system is installed. Keep the labels on your category boxes, and arrange them in the middle of your garage so the install can take place around the perimeter.

– Re-locate remaining items into their new sensible destination within the garage.

This is the re-loading process. If you have held off buying product, you can now use the correct bins, boxes, and storage containers to store your belongings and establish systems that really work for your family. Involve everyone in the reloading process and they will feel more ownership about where things should go.

– Commit to a regular schedule of maintenance for your newly organized garage

Promptly put things away after using them, and order will truly be restored! Get quarterly or bi-annual garage maintenance on your calendar. If it doesn’t make it onto your calendar, it is far less likely to happen. This strategic plan for organizing garages works for me and my professional organizers as we tackle garages across America and it can work for you, too! If you dedicate the time and follow my process, you’ll no longer be embarrassed to leave your garage door open on a sunny day!

Comedian George Carlin used to tell audiences “a house is a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff!”. We seniors have considerable stuff, amassed over 50-plus years and ranging from young stuff to middle-aged stuff to really old stuff. Stuff procreates. Sometimes it’s scattered all over the house, rests comfortably in storage units or sits in other people’s houses, where it mixes with their stuff. And our stuff often is cluttered and unorganized, which is where someone like Wendy Viramontes comes in. The 52-year-old El Pasoan, a professional organizer, helps us confront our stuff and decide its future.

There’s a vocation here, and she’s been running her freelance business – the Art of Organizing – from her Eastside home for a year. She’d had no idea there was a profession in this, or that there’s a National Association of Professional Organizers, called NAPO. That you can take online courses – she did – to develop your skills, learn how to be a professional organizer and how to make it into a business.

Seniors planning to downsize, from empty nesters with more space than they need to those single or married, often find more stuff than they’d planned. So, we all have stuff. Widows and widowers have their own stuff and now have their spouse’s stuff. Empty nesters often have their kids’ stuff. And where we live – big home, small home, condo, apartment – is a factor we must examine when downsizing, which can be a tougher experience than you might imagine.

One Viramontes client needed help organizing a good-sized closet that really wasn’t “cluttered”; it just wasn’t “efficient.” “She had a lot of things in there,” said Viramontes. “And I needed to help her organize them to help her find what she needed, and in a manner conducive to her work – her uniforms and to her lifestyle. She’s involved in non-profit work as well, so I had to think about all of that”. Viramontes also has a 65-year-old client whose husband died 10 years ago. The woman inherited her parents’ things and her husband’s things; thus her 1,000-square-foot home has become cluttered. “Some of her items had no place or purpose,” Viramontes added. “It’s all in a garage and a storage unit. She even had a storage unit made, but it’s still all over the place.”

Viramontes has been working with her for four months; the two are about halfway through the job. She’s learned that each downsizer is different; some can “move” much faster and make up their minds. Others require more work, patience and a slower pace. The latter scenario sometimes results in Viramontes assigning work projects to a client, then taking it through, project by project.

“We take it in basic steps,” she added. “There’s no deadline, so I’m helping a client take ownership of some of the decisions and things that are going on. And this is up-front in an agreement we have.”

Tips to get you started
So what to do with things we seniors find as we plow through years of accumulations? What can we do with clothes, furniture, vehicles, sets, artwork, keepsakes, treasures, grandpa’s stamp collection, houses and hundreds more things we can’t list here?

Here are some recommendations from Viramontes:

1. Start going through your stuff early. Don’t wait – stuff grows.
2. Get the legal work – estate planning, wills – done ASAP. Change as needed.
3. Check with your siblings to see if they want any of your parents’ things.
4. Be practical. Live in a two-story house? Still want that when you’re older? Stairs can be dangerous.
5. You want to travel. How much “house” is needed if you’ll often be gone?
6. How’s your health? Are you alone or do you have a spouse?
7. Financial advantages: reduce debt, housing expenses and maintenance.
8. Overcome a need to keep things, especially if you grew up during the Depression.
9. Overcome “strategically applied guilt” – like when a parent stresses importance of things he or she has collected,
and that results in guilt for trying to sell or get rid of things.
10. Get possessions professionally appraised.

It’s personal – As a senior empty nester herself, Viramontes is going through her own stuff as she downsizes, letting go of clothes she kept because 10 years ago she looked “really good” in them, and some of her grandmother’s furniture.

“You kept them because it felt good or because it reminded you of something, but as you age it’s a big life adjustment for seniors or the elderly to let go of things that are memories,” she said. “It’s very emotional.” She’s also closed a storage unit that had a bunch of her kids’ stuff in it.

“I’d been collecting things that I’d not even looked at in years,” Viramontes said. “I was so disappointed in myself because some of the items in the boxes – I was like – I can’t believe I had this in storage and was paying for it!”. But her work offers no cookie-cutter answers. Everybody’s habits, lifestyles, needs, quirks, collections and emotions are different.

Household-item disbursement methods vary. Viramontes listed garage sales and donations to homeless shelters, Goodwill or to non-profits or thrift shops. Recycling is another option.
“We seniors need to look at downsizing now, especially if you become an empty nester and it’s a lifestyle change,” she said. “It’s the financial gain we need, and downsizing also makes you more efficient. It’s also a safer environment for you”. And she again stressed the need to hire an appraiser.

“That step helps you start going in the direction of starting to want to let go of things,” she said. “If it’s not practical for you or your home and if you kids don’t want it, just get rid of it.

“Let somebody else use it in their home. Let some organization make money off it”. Wendy Viramontes

Professional organizer Wendy Viramontes sorts through belongings in a client’s garage. When seniors downsize, deciding what to do with items accumulated over a lifetime can be a difficult task.

Garages tend to become dumps for just about everything. Because they are big open spaces, they’re easy targets for that suitcase that won’t fit in the closet, the rollerblades your daughter doesn’t want to throw away yet, the sewing machine you need to give back to your neighbor, and anything else that doesn’t have a set place.

National Clean Out Your Garage Day, the Saturday after Labor Day, is a perfect time to roll up your sleeves and dive head first into the clutter. Follow these 6 tips from Houzz users and home professionals to clean your way to a neat and organized garage.

1. Use as much vertical and ceiling space as possible. This rule is particularly important if you’re planning to actually park your car here. Make sure that you’ll have room for your car without running into or onto anything.

For Houzz user Janet Henry in Illinois, getting everything up and off of the floor was a priority, so getting rid of as much junk as possible was a must. “The biggest challenge was just getting started,” she says. After a yard sale, it took her three days to paint the walls, scour the floor, and paint the cabinetry to get the garage spic and span. “I make it a point to sweep it out and wipe things up every week. I want it to stay nice for a long time,” she says.

The main goal for Janet was to create a space that was clean, organized, and presentable when the garage door was open. Luckily, she has a shed and a basement where any extra-large equipment can go.

This is a great solution for anyone who has a smaller garage; small storage sheds can be built and installed relatively inexpensively. “Just driving into a nice, clean space is great,” she says.

Getting as much off of floor as possible was also a big priority for Sarah of the blog Thrifty Decor Chick. Her garage had become like so many others: a place to store every possible bit of clutter. She picked up some holders from the hardware store for brooms, rakes, mops — anything with a handle. Heavy-duty hooks took care of the rest.

Originally, Sarah had bought some simple open-wire shelving for the back of her garage — but the open shelves actually ended up discouraging organization. Everyone would shove things onto the shelves, until they became a mishmash of random belongings. This time around, she decided to invest in a few storage pieces from Target. The simple, closed cabinetry made all the difference.

2. Before reorganizing, try taking everything out of your garage. Looking at the space you have as a blank canvas can give you a better idea of what you’re working with. Houzz user Ivan Prefer of Hillsdale, New Jersey has a vertical storage setup similar to the previous two garages, but has also incorporated a neat and tidy workshop area towards the back. Working with a clean slate can help you decide which areas are best to designate for certain activities.

3. Decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw away. When you find yourself questioning a particular item, ask yourself:

•        Do I love it?

•        Do I need it?

•        When was the last time I used this?

•        If I donated it, could it be safely used by another person?

 

Clearing out clutter is incredibly satisfying, and odds are you won’t really miss that fifth spare tennis racket. When in doubt, donate or toss it. Recycle as much as possible, and be sure to dispose of paint and other hazardous waste safely.

4. Group like items together so they’re easy to find. For Chris Carey from Just a Girl, the garage in her Michigan home was a tricky space because it’s also the primary way that most people use to enter the home. She decided that even though it was a garage, it didn’t necessarily have to look like one.

A few coats of paint, metal shelving and some cute decals for the door completely transformed the space without spending a lot of money. Chris decided to put the items that they’d mostly need for in-house use on the larger wire shelf, including drinks, paper towels and toilet paper, and other cleaning materials.

Like Chris, Erin of Sunny Side Up tends to use her garage door as the main entrance for her home — so it often becomes a gathering place for shoes and coats. A neat and tidy shoe and coat rack encourages her children to place their own clothes in the right place and makes it easy when searching for that much-loved pair of pink Velcro sneakers. Storage on the ceiling and walls saves room for larger items, and things that are used on a daily basis.

5. Decide which area of the garage is going to be used for what purpose. Think carefully about what you want your garage to be used for, and the best possible way that this space can be divided up.

For Houzz user Mikki Lesowitz-Soliday of Sherman Oaks, Calif., the priority was to clean out her garage and transform it into a studio where her craft group and classes could meet. However, space still had to be allotted for storage and workout equipment. By dividing up the room into zones, she was able to create a setup that made sense and was still neat and organized.

Mikki’s biggest challenge was trying to figure out what to do with the extra-large items, which included four bicycles, lawn equipment and lots of luggage. Instead of attempting to cram every little thing in her space, they built a long, narrow shed for those items along the side of the garage. That left space for two large tables, a sewing station, and plenty of art and craft supplies.

“I have loads of storage, which I recognize is a real luxury,” she says. “But I’m always purging. Everything from art supplies to my kids’ clothes. I think it’s the key to staying organized!”

6. Label absolutely everything. Another shot from Erin’s garage shows how taking the time to label each and every drawer and shelf can make a world of difference. Tired of drawers and bins full of a hodgepodge of nails, screws, and bolts, Erin took the time to organize each individual piece by type and label accordingly. Tedious? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

Since sewing involves so many bits and pieces, it’s easy for a sewing station to become a tangled mess of thread, pins and needles. Instead of letting the chaos pile up, Mikki decided to prevent it by creating a space for everything. Scissors, pins, fabric, thread spools, and every other sewing necessity has its own labeled and special spot.

Those of us lucky enough to have a garage space in our home tend to take it for granted. This private and secure parking space can quickly become a ‘catch-all’ for myriad tools, products, and boxes of clothing—anything we just want out of sight. The problem is these items can also disappear from our mental inventory of possessions and, before you know it, become a garage full of stuff that you never use—or worse—forgot you ever had.

One of the problems with all this accumulated clutter is that the legit items that you need in your life, such as your tools or space for long-term storage, tend to get squeezed out or lost amid the mess. Here are some tips to help organize your garage to retain your sanity before you lose all hope.

1. Purge

Before you can even begin to organize the good stuff, you’ve got to remove the superfluous junk that you no longer need. That camping gear that you haven’t touched in 10 years, get rid of it. Those clothes that will never come back in style, donate. Consider having a yard sale to try and squeeze a little cash out of your better discards.

2. Plan

Once you’ve got to the good stuff, you’ll need to set a plan for organizing these items. First consider your layout and what items you’ll need easy access to and what items can go in a more “permanent” storage location. Tools, clothing and household items should probably be front and center so you don’t forget you have these items. Holiday decorations can be positioned further back as long as they are properly labeled and you know where to find them.

3. Organize

When you’ve decided where everything will go, you will need to determine how to physically organize the space. Open shelves are great for storing file boxes and power tools; getting them up off the floor and in an easy-to-reach position. Cabinets and drawers are good places for chemicals and cleaning fluids. Hooks are also great for getting things like bikes, brooms, and sporting equipment out of the way. Getting items off the floor is a huge factor in sorting out your space.

4. Label

As you begin to place your items on shelves or in storage bins, make sure you label them with BIG BOLD WORDS.  Use tape and a Sharpie instead of writing directly on a box so you don’t have to continue to cross out old contents. Be very clear on recording what items are in each box as this will save you time and headache later.

5. Keep it Clean

A clean and organized garage can quickly become messy. To prevent this, make a staging space on top of a box or counter in your garage where you can place items temporarily until they are stored in their proper place.  This will save you from just haphazardly throwing boxes or items on top of boxes and starting the vicious cycle all over again.

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